Last night’s vice presidential debate helped me solidify some thoughts that have been percolating in my head for awhile now, thoughts concerning how Christians can think about election day and political elections in general.
As Christians, our participation in this great American experiment enables us to bring a biblical influence to our culture. While this is not a silver bullet that will fix all the ills of our society, it is a part of being salt and light in the part of the world where we live. Our call to serve our communities in this way is just as important to God as the work we do in our churches, our families, and our vocations.
Principled Ways to Think about Election Season
Ultimately, voting is an act of stewardship, and a choice that should be made with thoughtful consideration informed by biblical principles. The great evangelist Charles Finney wrote in 1835 about the need for Christians to vote:
God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as part of their duty to God…. God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.
In her article entitled 3 Reasons You Should Care About Election Day, Anne Chamberlin writes that as Christians, “We know that the purpose of government is not to save souls, but to ‘punish those who do evil and praise those who do good’” (1 Pet. 2:14). Chamberlin concludes:
We can serve (our country and our neighbors) by exercising the gift of self-rule wisely, shrewdly. As Christ’s regents, we can support sensible candidates and policies to help bring about freedom and quiet living rather than oppression, here in our little 21st-century kingdom called America.
Beyond recognizing the importance of voting, there are things Christians can do outside the ballot box to engage faithfully during election season. It sounds trite, but a major activity Christians can do is to commit to the truth the of Scripture. Anne Bradley explored this in a previous post written during this year’s primaries. She wrote,
The battle of ideas occurring in our country is bankrupt because we are fooled by the truths of the world instead of committing to the truths of Scripture…. It is our responsibility to advance the biblical principles of work, dignity, life, freedom, and flourishing.
Of course, advancing biblical principles is something we need to do in every season and not just during elections. Bradley concluded her thoughts by saying,
When we seek Scripture first, we see two important truths: what our job is and how to do it. Our job is to be good stewards and sub-creators for God in the pursuit of greater flourishing. Scripture contains the insight we need to make God-pleasing decisions as good stewards.
Our voting choices are part of what it means to be good stewards seeking to make God-pleasing decisions. Putting Scripture first and stewardship are two principles that should inform a Christian approach to elections.
So how can we be good stewards in the ballot box?
Practical Ways for Christians to Think about Election Season
A number of years ago Bill Bright, the founder of Cru, wrote Your 5 Duties As a Christian Citizen. In this short paper he suggests five important ways in which we can be salt and light in our communities:
- Pray: Pray daily “for kings and all others who are in authority over us, or are in places of high responsibility, so that we can live in peace and quietness” (1 Timothy 2:2).
- Register to vote: Be registered as a qualified voter so you can practice your citizenship with accountability to God.
- Become informed: Inform yourself and others concerning the structure of government, current political problems and issues, and how to serve God effectively in the political arena at your level of influence.
- Help elect godly people: Help select and elect men and women of God to public office at the local, state, and national levels.
- Vote: Vote consistently in every election, after becoming informed about the various candidates and issues and evaluating them on the basis of the Word of God.
Take these thoughts with you as you go to the polls next month.